Comerford, Cranes Repeat as D3 Champs

November 17, 2012

By Gary Kalahar
Special to Second Half

YPSILANTI – By the time she is finished with her high school career, perhaps Plainwell’s Mallory Comerford will be an MHSAA champion in all eight individual swimming races.

Sounds a bit far-fetched to be sure. But after Comerford’s performance Saturday in the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 3 meet at Eastern Michigan University, would anyone care to bet against her?

Comerford, a sophomore, made it four championships in four different races by winning the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle in dominant, record-breaking fashion.

Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood used its outstanding depth – scoring at least 15 points in every race – to swim away with its second consecutive Division 3 team title. The Cranes scored 361 points, and Bloomfield Hills Lahser finished second with 211.

As a freshman, Comerford was the champ in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle. Plainwell coach John DuBois said with another excellent long-distance freestyler last year, Comerford was placed in the sprints to give the Trojans the potential for more points.

“So we trained her in sprints, but her love is distance,” DuBois said. “It wasn't a hard transition at all.”
It certainly didn't look like it, especially on the final weekend.

“I was real happy with how I did,” Comerford said. “I’m very excited. I felt smooth going in the water Friday, and it was the same way (Saturday).”

In the 200 freestyle, Comerford set the Division 3 record with a 1:50.92 in the preliminaries and lowered it to 1:48.07 to win the final by more than six seconds.

“In my heart, I thought she could go 1:48,” DuBois said. “But I didn't know it would be that easy. Easy as in the way she swam – it was so effortless. She was in a groove.”

Comerford’s 4:58.18 in the 500 freestyle preliminaries established a meet record. That one lasted about 24 hours, too, as she went out fast and never slowed down in a 4:53.14 final. She won by 13 seconds with a time that would have made her a winner at the day’s Division 1 or Division 2 Finals.

“That was a surprise to me,” Comerford said.

Ten minutes after that race, Comerford was back on the blocks for the anchor leg of the 200 freestyle relay, boosting the Trojans from sixth place to fourth.

“I had to be there for my team,” Comerford said. “I just had the belief that I was fresh and I could do it."

She brought Plainwell from seventh to fourth on the final leg of the 400 freestyle relay, but the Trojans were disqualified.

“I knew it would be tough, but it was definitely worth it,” Comerford said about switching her focus to the longer distances. “It was a lot more yardage, a lot tougher on your body to be prepared for the longer races. My coaches, John DuBois here and Jeff Russell with USA Swimming, have pushed me as hard as I could go. I couldn't do what I've done without them.”

DuBois, whose team finished fifth with 140 points, said Comerford’s willingness to swim the events where she could most help the team is representative of her attitude.

“She’s a phenomenal athlete, she has great character and she’s an unbelievable worker,” he said. “She obviously is gifted, and we’re lucky to have her at Plainwell. She’s been a model academically and athletically. She’s all the things coaches love to have.”

Another thing all coaches would love to have is the depth of Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood rode to the team title. The Cranes had no divers but had girls swimming in every final race. In nine of the 11 events, they scored at least 23 points.

“A lot of it goes to the competition that we started with the first day of practice,” first-year Cranbrook-Kingswood coach Chris Bagley said. “It’s unbelievable to think about how deep we are.”

Senior Kylie Powrie swam on teams that finished second in Division 3 her freshman and sophomore years and won titles the last two.

“It’s amazing,” Powrie said. “Our team has come so far. We've improved so much over the years. I never would have thought this was possible my freshman year. When I started, it was hard for us to fill up all the events.”

Powrie, the 2011 champion in the two races won by Comerford this year, finished her career by helping the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay teams to victory, the latter in a Division 3-record 3:33.63.

“We just wanted our team record, and we got it and got the state record,” Powrie said.

Lara Kokubo was Cranbrook-Kingswood’s lone individual champion, winning the 100 freestyle. She also swam on the two winning relay teams.

“We knew we were going to have high expectations, but to do what we did, the way we did it, is just unbelievable,” Bagley said. “We set our goals at the beginning of the year, and we never talked about winning a state title. We talked about being the most improved team in the state, and I think we did that.”

Ines Charles led runner-up Bloomfield Hills Lahser. She repeated as champion in the 100 backstroke, helped her 200 medley relay team to a second straight title and finished second in the 100 butterfly.

Click for full results.

PHOTO: Members of the Cranbrook-Kingswood 400-yard freestyle relay team celebrate their LP Division 3 Final record time Saturday. (Click to see more from

MHSAA Winter Sports Start with Extended Basketball Schedules, New Wrestling Weights

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

December 13, 2022

The addition of two games to basketball regular-season schedules and a new series of wrestling weight classes are likely the most noticeable Winter 2022-23 changes as an estimated 65,000 athletes statewide take part in 13 sports for which the Michigan High School Athletic Association sponsors postseason tournaments.

Girls gymnastics and boys ice hockey teams were able to begin practice Oct. 31, with the rest of those sports beginning in November – including also girls and boys basketball, girls and boys bowling, girls competitive cheer, girls and boys skiing, Upper Peninsula girls and boys and Lower Peninsula boys swimming & diving, and girls and boys wrestling.

A variety of changes are in effect for winter sports this season, including a several that will be noteworthy and noticeable to teams and spectators alike.

Basketball remains the most-participated winter sport for MHSAA member schools with 33,000 athletes taking part last season, and for the first time, basketball teams may play up to 22 regular-season games. This increase from the previous 20-game schedule allows more games for teams at every high school level – varsity, junior varsity and freshman.

Another significant change has been made in wrestling, as the majority of boys wrestling weight classes have been adjusted for this season in anticipation of a national change coming in 2023-24. The updated boys weight classes are 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 144, 150, 157, 165, 175, 190, 215 and 285 pounds. Only 215 and 285 remain from the previous lineup. There is also one change to girls weight classes, with the 255 class replaced by 235 to also align with national high school standards.

A series of notable changes will affect how competition takes place at the MHSAA Tournament levels. In hockey, in addition to a new classification process that spread cooperative and single-school programs evenly throughout the three playoff divisions, the MHSAA Tournament will employ two changes. The Michigan Power Ratings (MPR) will be used to seed the entire Regional round, not just the top two teams, and prior to the start of Semifinals, a seeding committee will reseed the remaining four teams in each division with the top seed in each then facing the No. 4 seed, and the No. 2 seed facing No. 3.

Bowling also will see an MHSAA Tournament change, as the Team Regional format will mirror the long-standing Team Final with teams playing eight Baker games and two regular games at both levels.  And as also applied during the fall girls season, there is a new qualification process for divers seeking to advance to Lower Peninsula Boys Swimming & Diving Finals. In each of the three divisions, each Regional will be guaranteed 10 qualifiers for the Finals, with six more “floating” qualifier entries to be distributed to the Regionals that have one of the previous year’s top six returning Finals divers in their fields. If a team changes division from the previous season, any floating top-six spots are added to the six already allowed in the school’s new division.

A gymnastics rules change provides an opportunity for additional scoring during the floor exercise. A dance passage requirement was added in place of the former dance series requirement to encourage creativity and a more artistic use of dance. The dance passage requires gymnasts to include two Group 1 elements – one a leap with legs in cross or side split position, the other a superior element.

In competitive cheer, the penalty for going over the time limit in each round was adjusted to one penalty point for every second over the time limit, not to exceed 15 points. The new time limit rule is more lenient than the past penalty, which subtracted points based on ranges of time over the limit.

The 2022-23 Winter campaign culminates with postseason tournaments, as the championship schedule begins with the Upper Peninsula Girls & Boys Swimming & Diving Finals on Feb. 18 and wraps up with the Boys Basketball Finals on March 25. Here is a complete list of winter tournament dates:

Boys Basketball
Districts – March 6, 8, 10
Regionals – March 13, 15
Quarterfinals – March 21
Semifinals – March 23-24
Finals – March 25

Girls Basketball
Districts – Feb. 27, March 1, 3
Regionals – March 7, 9
Quarterfinals – March 14
Semifinals – March 16-17
Finals – March 18

Regionals – Feb. 24-25
Finals – March 3-4

Competitive Cheer
District – Feb. 17-18
Regionals – Feb. 25
Finals – March 2-3

Regionals – March 4
Finals – March 10-11

Ice Hockey
Regionals – Feb. 20-March 1
Quarterfinals – March 4
Semifinals – March 9-10
Finals – March 11

Regionals – Feb. 13-17
Finals – Feb. 27

Swimming & Diving
Upper Peninsula Girls/Boys Finals – Feb. 18
Lower Peninsula Boys Diving Regionals – March 2
Lower Peninsula Boys Finals – March 10-11

Wrestling – Team
Districts – Feb. 8-9
Regionals – Feb. 15
Finals – Feb. 24-25

Wrestling – Individual
Districts – Feb. 11
Regionals – Feb. 18
Finals – March 3-4

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.3 million spectators each year.